Stephanie Hurt – Romance Author

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Series Writing…What I learned…

 

img_2612Good morning! I hope you’re having a blessed day. Me, I’m in mama mode, or as my son calls it, flood mode. By that I mean, our son graduates from high school tomorrow night and every time I think about it, I cry. I’m so proud of him and happy for him, but as a mama, well, I get a bit nervous and anxious, knowing he’s about to embark on a new chapter in his life. It’s hard to let go, but we do have to let them spread their wings. Ok, enough of thought, salty tears in my coffee isn’t very good.

Series… Have you written one yet? If you have, then you know the struggles. The first one goes pretty well as writing goes, but when you start on the second, if it’s a continuing series, well, the problems start. Do you remember this about a character? Do you remember the neighbor’s name that will be appearing some in the other books? What did you name the dog? Wow, yeah, that’s where the fun really begins…

Here’s what I learned, the hard way and hopefully it will help guide some of you into writing series without the struggle… I’ve attached a picture of the front of one of my series notebooks for the Sky Ridge Series.

When I first started writing, I decided to do a series where a couple of the books were connected. The problems didn’t start until the second book. I was constantly looking back to see about facts and such. It was horrible. I had so much to write but between the looking back and double checking facts, it took longer to write the next couple books.

So, when I started the Women of Magnolia Hill Saga, I began a journal on the series. I kept a timeline, character sketches, and places. Since this is a historical romance series and I tried to stay in line with history, somewhat, I printed out a timeline of the time period and marked where each book started and ended. This helped some with details.

Then the fun really begins. I had to keep up with who the oldest sibling and youngest sibling were. Also, in this series, it spans many, many years, so, sadly some of the main characters from the earlier books die. I had to keep up with their age when they died and how. That way when a character looks back, it’s factual, not pulled from my brain which doesn’t remember a lot these days.

The character and place parts are very critical. If your character has a child, well, you can’t just go on with the story and not include the child. That child will eventually grow up and surely he or she isn’t kept in a dark closet until future episodes. So, detail is very important.

In the Magnolia Saga, there is a magnolia tree in the front yard where every member gets married. I have to remember where it is. In my mind and my notebook, I have a sketch of the property. It helps.

With my newest series, I have a composition book for each series and I include the outline, characters and where they all cross paths. Since the Wishful Harbor series is all around the same time period, I have to make sure to keep up with the comings and goings of everyone, even the mailman. LOL!

I’ve sketched the town of Wishful Harbor and plan to have the sketch at the front of each of the five books in the series. That gives the reader a sense of knowing the town and lets their mind live in that town. I’m so excited about this series because it intertwines together to make a beautiful story about a sweet town. But, it couldn’t happen without my notebook of facts.

So, how do you keep your series straight? Does this help you to possibly tackle a series in the future? I hope it does. But remember, I’m always here if you have a question.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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When the plot changes…

Well, it’s a foggy Saturday morning in Georgia.  That sounds like the opening line of a story. Yes, I’m in a writing mood this morning, so watch out word count, here I come.

Speaking of writing, have you ever been in the middle of a manuscript and the plot changes. I mean, you’re headed in one direction, then the story takes a turn in a different direction. That’s what happened in the manuscript I just finished. You see, I had it all figured out. I thought I knew where the characters were headed and what the ending would be like, but guess what? The plot changed. (The plot is the direction the story is going, like directing the main events that lead to the ending, you know, the backbone of the storyline.)

Sometimes when you’re writing a story, the characters seem to have a mind of their own. In Highlander’s Son, I had it all in my mind, but something wasn’t working. Now, the outline looked good and when I sat and plotted it out months ago, it seemed to work well. But once I was deep into the manuscript, over halfway completed, I realized that the plot was changing. I had to make a change or the story would flop.

It’s scary to change the plot of a story when you’re almost done. But once I got it in my head where the characters had to go to complete the story, I was on a roll. It turned out that the plot change worked and the story was complete.

Highlander’s Son took a turn in the plot and headed in a totally different direction. It’s at that moment that you throw the outline out the window at 70 mph and never look back. I have to say that when the plot changes, sometimes you have to just follow it’s lead or you’ll end up with a manuscript that is cut up in the editor’s floor, never to see the light of day.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

Here’s a look at the cover for Highlander’s Son, which is coming out very, very soon!

highlanders son front cover


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Smile! It’s Friday folks!

Good morning! Smile, it’s Friday! Smile

So, what are you up to? Me, I’m finishing up Highlander’s Son and Lacey’s Choice for my editor. It’s been a productive couple of days. So, I’m smiling.

Now, time to get in 2000 words before I head to the office. Have a great Friday and be inspired by all that’s around you. Don’t let anything turn your smile upside down.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Finding your voice…

Good morning! Life is good…I’m up and the sun is shining. Yes, it’s a good day!

As a writer, have you found your voice? I was told by an editor at Harlequin that I had a voice for romance. Do I mean the voice that comes from my mouth? No, I mean the one that comes from my head. That editor, although she was sending me a rejection letter, which by the news that came out this week, I’m glad I got that rejection in many ways, but she told me something that has stuck with me. She told me that they loved my voice as a writer.

There are writers that if you follow their work, you’d know it anywhere. I’ve been told that my writing is that way. What about you? Does your voice stay steady? Does your writing show the inner you?

In writing workshops, they always harp on finding your voice. I used to sit and think, my voice, I don’t have laryngitis. LOL! Now I know it’s the way I tell a story, or as the Harlequin editor said, the way I spin a tale.

So, have you found your voice?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…


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Happy 5th Birthday to Ghost Lover!

It’s hard to believe that the very first book I published is five years old today! On May 12, 2012, I took a leap of faith and I’ve never looked back. It was the hardest step I think I’ve taken in my life.

I remember the first time I worked on this manuscript which was eighteen years ago. I had a new baby, accounting business, house, hubby, and life going on all around me, but I needed an out. I’d worked on writing since I was a teenager, but this story pulled at me, even that long ago. I wrote at least two thirds of it, then put it in a file as my son got older and my business grew. All of a sudden, I didn’t have the time to work on it. Then my assistant (Now my editor and one of my cover designers) pulled the file from the back of my desk drawer and fell in love with the story.

Within a week, Ghost Lover had cover. LOL! Let’s look at that first cover:

book cover

Needless to say, that cover didn’t last long. As I went through and searched, I knew this cover was lacking, really lacking. I have to laugh as I look at it, but hey, I was a newbie. Of course, my assistant quickly threw this one out and designed the first awesome cover of my writing career. Here’s what she came up with and I’ve received several great reviews on this cover, even from the cover model that sent me a message. He told me he was the one on my cover, which thrilled me. So, here’s the 2nd cover for Ghost Lover:

Ghost Lover Final

This is one of my favorite covers. And it was my first real attempt at making something out of my writing and taking it seriously. This book took me to the bestsellers list within six months, which really excited me. But, as my writing advanced and I learned more about the world of grammar and writing, I knew that my baby needed a makeover, so in amongst all of my works in progress, I began the process of overhauling my work.

The newest edition of Ghost Lover has astounded me in it’s depth of love, romance, suspense and other emotions that I can’t exactly explain. Here’s the newest cover, which I’m totally in love with.

Ghost Lover 2 full cover

So, as you can tell, Ghost Lover has been through many changes over the last five years, but the heart of the story has never changed. When true love is there, nothing can tear you apart.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…

 


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Writing a book is easy!…

Hello, Sunday morning…. What happened to Saturday? It went by too fast and now the weekend is almost over.  I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, yet… Oh well, life goes on.

Here’s a question… How many times does someone come up to you and say, ‘Writing a book is easy, I can do that with my eyes closed.’? I’ve lost count of the people that have told me that when they found out that I’m an author. Usually. I just say, ‘Go ahead, give it a try.’ I know that they haven’t looked into what it entails and probably wouldn’t see it through.

If you’re a writer, you know what’s involved. It’s not the easy job that most think it is. There’s more to becoming a writer than just writing. Most people think that if you’re a writer, then all you do is sit and write. LOL! There’s more to it than that. So, here goes a short list of what goes into the writing of a book, and this is a short list, so it doesn’t get into everything.

1: A story comes to you… This could be the whole thing or just an idea.

2: You begin to outline or put together notes on the idea for the story. At this point, you’re setting up the characters, setting, and plot.

3: You start to write the story. This process could take you a week or couple of years according to how fast the story comes to you or the time you have to get this process completed. Sometimes the story doesn’t come as fast as you want it to.

4: As you write your story, you develop an idea for the cover and at that point or somewhere down the road, you design a cover that goes with the story. (This isn’t as easy as it sounds.)

5: Alright, you’ve written your story, designed your cover, now what? Edit, edit and edit some more. Then you read your story and possibly write more or change some of the story. At this point, I’ve deleted whole chapters that hurt the flow of the story, yes, I said whole chapters. It hurt but had to be done.

As you can see, this is just the start. There are so many other steps to writing a book. This is just a quick, condensed version, but you get the idea. It’s not the easy process that some think it is. But, it’s a rewarding process once it’s done and you’ve published your work.

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…IMG_1489

 


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Fear as a writer…

Good morning! Hope all is well with everyone as we start this Thursday morning or afternoon, wherever you wonderful people are 😉

Fear, everyone has felt fear at one time or the other. Don’t lie, you know you have. As a child, we had fear of strangers and storms. As adults, we have many fears. Maybe we fear financial issues, for our children, the future… etc. There are a lot of fears in this world, but I want to talk about the fear as a writer.

The moment I hit submit on Ghost Lover, the first book I published in May 2012, I was sweating. My palms were damp, my heart was racing, in easy terms, I was a mess. What if nobody likes my writing? What if this is a mistake? What if… What if… What if… Then the emails started coming from readers that fell in love with Jared and Jessie. The fear was alleviated for a moment, then came the next book and the next.

Does my fear ease with each book I publish? Some, but not completely. I’m always afraid of the unknown. Even though my books are poured over and over with edits and rewrites and such, I still have that fear that I’m sending out my work with flaws. Even the best-edited book has flaws and I have to remind myself of that. My fans are so precious and let me know every day the pleasure they get from the words I put on the page, but still, I feel like I could’ve added more to the story, went over it one more time, or even changed something.

Then there’s the fear of not selling a single book, yikes…. Yes, that’s a fear. In January, my sales went on a downward spiral and I had to catch my breath. After an amazing end of 2016, it was like a kick in the gut. But, as I sought out other authors to see if it was happening to them, they confirmed that they too were seeing a sharp decline in sales. Even the authors that normally sell thousands of copies a month were down to hundreds. Although that should make me feel better, it only made my fear worse. Had people stopped reading? LOL! Yes, it was an irrational fear, but it still came through this ditsy blonde head.

Then, the sales started to rise. Yes, my fear was going away, but then a new fear arose. Could I do more to keep that from happening again? The truth is, no. We can’t control what people do or trends, so, I picked myself up off the pity floor and moved forward.

So, as a writer, what do you fear?

As always, good writing and May God Bless You…